The number of sunspots grow with increasing activity of the sun. Then the sun emits electrons of high energy and charged ions into space. Such sun storms interact with Earth’s magnetic field being deflected to the poles. This causes collisions with atmospheric atoms whereas these atoms loose their electrons, called ionization. During the recombination process of electrons and ions light is emitted. That’s what we admire as Northern Lights, here photographed during winter onboard a research vessel far off the coast of the Norwegian Lofoten. The full moon additionally illuminates low stratus clouds while the star constellation of Orion sees through the Northern Lights.
Canon 20D, Canon L10-22mm, f/3.5, 1sec, ISO 3200 onboard R/V Celtic Explorer